As the Oscars returns from a long, dormant pandemic induced shutdown, the moment that will be remembered has nothing to do with a win or a loss, but instead will go down in Oscar history for all the wrong reasons.
During the exclusive Oscars ceremony, comedian Chris Rock took to the stage to deliver a short comedic monologue before presenting the award for Best Documentary. Like many hosts and presenters in years prior, the ultra-famous attendee are often the subject of the roasts extolled from behind the podium every March. Ricky Gervais did it. Ellen did it. So did Seth MacFarlane, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal and Jimmy Kimmel. The practice of lampooning the rich in famous from the very event that honors them is the reason many watch, especially since Golden Globes hosts Tina Fey and Amy Pohler made it a practice to turn the event into a viral meme.
Despite having become painfully snobbish and sanctimonious, the Oscars remains one of the most widely watched televised awards ceremonies each year. While Hollywood’s hottest night has celebrated 94 years, the popularity and public interest has been waning recently as it seems a lightening rod for controversy every time the red carpet rolls out. In 2017, the Best Picture awards- the most coveted of the evening- was announced for the film LaLa Land, until quickly and awkwardly, the record was corrected by the presenter Warren Beatty. The real winner was Moonlight. The audience shifted uncomfortably in their seats as the statuettes erroneously handed to the LaLa Land filmmakers were redistributed, live on stage, before the world, to the recipients they were intended for. It made for a dark moment in the Awards show history, much worse than when Melissa Leo dropped the F-Bomb during her acceptance speech back in 2011. Over the years, the Academy Awards has become more notable for the follies of the night than the famous people it decorates.
As Chris Rock cracked a few jokes, the one he should have left on the cutting room floor targeted Jada Pinkett Smith, the wife of Will Smith, who was nominated for Best Actor due to his role in King Richard. As Hollywood Royalty and nominees, the two actors were, per usual, situated center from the stage, and by now everyone knows that’s the splash zone for the comedic hosts to take aim with their barbs.